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Lightning Round: all teams officially on winter break

And a hockey fight for the ages

Tampa Bay Lightning v Vegas Golden Knights
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 21: Alex Killorn #17 of the Tampa Bay Lightning reacts as a shot by teammate Steven Stamkos #91 gets by Laurent Brossoit #39 of the Vegas Golden Knights for a third-period power-play goal during their game at T-Mobile Arena on December 21, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Lightning defeated the Golden Knights 4-3.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Lightning’s comeback win over the Vegas Golden Knights is the NHL’s last bit of action before it shuts down for the Christmas break. And the break couldn’t have come sooner as many teams are mired in COVID protocol and giving everyone a few days off to shed the virus and test negative is exactly what everyone needs to get back to regularly scheduled programming.

The Lightning have been luckier than most as one of the teams least-affected by the outbreak. They’ve still had a game postponed and their coach has been put under protocol, but looking around, it could’ve been much worse.

“Tampa Bay vs Vegas is the only game on the NHL’s schedule — and the last on the schedule before the break — with the nine others all postponed.” [Raw Charge]

With a herculean task ahead of the NHL’s schedule-makers after over four dozen games need to be recovered, it’s highly unlikely the Lightning won’t have to change their entire schedule in February. Yes, there is the Olympic break, but with the NHL unofficially officially not going anymore, they intend to fill those two weeks with games for everyone. And to keep things competitive and fair, the Lightning won’t get a two-week break while other teams play a lot of games.

The Lightning scored three unanswered goals to turn a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 victory over the Golden Knights. Tampa Bay Find-A-Ways Strikes Again. [Raw Charge]

“It wasn’t pretty, but it worked. After a sluggish start to the game, the Tampa Bay Lightning rallied from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Vegas Golden Knights, 4-3, in a battle of conference powerhouses. With the win (and the rest of the league idle), the Lightning moved to the top of the NHL standings with 44 points. Steven Stamkos scored the game winner, Gabriel Fortier scored his first career NHL goal, and Anthony Cirelli scored 43 seconds after Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. Andrei Vasilevskiy did his best work in the first period to keep the game closer than it should have been and ended up with 38 saves on 41 shots.”

Here’s what Bryan Burns had to say in his Three Things after the game. [NHL dot com]

“When you don’t have Coop there, he’s great at line matchups, he’s great at changing lines around for a spark, he’s good in the room, he’s able to get to the guys when he is in the room talking to them,” Lalonde said. “But it really is seamless. I know it probably sounds cliché, but we share everything and everything kind of our room comes as one.”

In Syracuse Crunch news, the team was able to get one game in this week, but that was all as the team is now in COVId protocol and completely shut down until further notice. [Raw Charge]

“The Syracuse Crunch have played just five games so far this month and just one since December 11th. They had two more games rescheduled last week as two teams from Canada (Belleville and Laval) didn’t make the trip across the border. This is the second weekend of the season where they’ve seen their schedule washed away by postponements and prevented them from building on their victory on Wednesday against Toronto.”

The Solar Bears had their west-coast road trip interrupted with a COVID postponement as well, but they were able to get in games before and after using a skeleton roster. Always a good reminder that whenever things are bad in the NHL, it’s usually tougher in the minor leagues below. [Raw Charge]

“Unfortunately, current events finally caught up to Orlando, as the ECHL announced late Saturday morning that the second game between the Solar Bears and Americans was postponed due to “League Health and Safety Protocols.” No make up date has been set.”

The Calgary Flames billionaire owner has pulled the plug on the latest arena agreement with the City of Calgary. The issue is over less than what he’s paid for Milan Lucic. Calgary’s mayor, Jyoti Gondek, shared the details of the meeting she had on Twitter amid concerns of the future of the team in the city. The Saddledome is old, and prone to flooding and the roof collapsing due to extreme weather. [Matchsticks and Gasoline]

“The main hang-up in this deal is the additional ~$16.1M in costs that have been found by the mayor’s office and administration regarding “climate mitigation” and “road/sidewalk right of way issues”. The city came to the table with $6.4M which would leave $9.7M for the Flames to cover, but it appears they are unwilling to cover either some or all of this amount.”

And finally, a hockey fight for the ages! You have to see this.